7 April 2009A top United Nations official today called for dialogue in Madagascar to bring an end to the “untenable” situation in the island nation, as several UN agencies appealed for $36 million to prevent a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country, which has been hit this year by drought, cyclones and political unrest. Unrest in the country culminated with the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana in early March, amid a dispute with the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, who now leads the country. The UN has repeatedly stressed that inclusive talks are the only means to bring about a smooth transition and a non-violent resolution to the crisis. The world body has been trying to assist the country through the efforts of Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios and UN Senior Adviser Tiébilé Dramé. Speaking to reporters after briefing a closed-door session of the Security Council today, Mr. Menkerios called the current situation in Madagascar “untenable” and urged the parties to engage in dialogue on the way forward. “The Council members expressed serious concern about the unconstitutional means of taking power by the former Mayor, and urged that there be a quick return to a constitutional order through a transitional process that is based on consensus reached through wide participation of all stakeholders in Madagascar,” he stated. “A return to constitutional order can only come by organizing quick elections where the people of Madagascar will decide,” stressed Mr. Menkerios. Six UN agencies and three non-governmental partners in Madagascar issued a call today for $35.7 million to help 2.5 million people living mainly in Madagascar’s main cities and an additional 880,000 living in the drought-affected south, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). With the majority of the population living under $1 a day, rising food prices and limited incomes have curtailed the ability of most households to have access to food, water and sanitation services, health and education. OCHA added that the political crisis over the past three months has worsened the already precarious situation of large segments of the Malagasy population through disruptions in basic social services and a climate of fear and uncertainty. It has also caused delays or a cessation of services to a number of aid and development projects across the Indian Ocean island nation.

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